Archive for the ‘fishing’ Category

Respite

July 25, 2017

20170725_111215-3 (1)

Our moods do not believe in each other. To-day I am full of thoughts, and can write what I please. I see no reason why I should not have the same thought, the same power of expression, to-morrow. What I write, whilst I write it, seems the most natural thing in the world; but yesterday I saw a dreary vacuity in this direction in which now I see so much; and a month hence, I doubt not, I shall wonder who he was that wrote so many continuous pages. Alas for this infirm faith, this will not strenuous, this vast ebb of a vast flow! I am God in nature; I am a weed by the wall.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Circles”

I still remember how liberated I felt back in 1989, when a professor pointed out Emerson’s sensitivity to the natural ebb and flow of the creative lifestyle. From that day forward, I pursued that theme, reading it in the poetry of Walt Whitman and the interviews of a number of twentieth-century painters. Long ago, while in the ministry, I knew that parishioners were deceiving themselves if they thought they could live in a state of perpetual revival. Mountains require valleys. In my years of teaching, the topic continually came up–how can one sustain a high level of creativity? In my opinion, one cannot. Life moves in circles. We require intake if we are to output. We must inhale in order to exhale. We must rest in order to exert. The ocean ebbs and flows. These rhythms are natural and inevitable.

I don’t think I’ve ever knowingly tried to cheat the natural order. Today on the radio, I listened to discussions of people taking amphetamines in order to sustain creative exploits for up to 72 hours without sleep. I have always been alarmed at that thought. In my years as a graduate student, I recall drinking coffee and swallowing No-Doz tablets in order to stay up an entire night typing a paper to meet a deadline. But I believe I always returned to my bed the following evening. I never thought it possible to sustain beyond that.

As to the rhythm of creative eros and stagnation, I truly believe that physical rest is a factor. So why am I writing this now? Because I’m exhausted–sleep deprived, heat exhausted and travel weary. But . . . my air conditioner at home was finally repaired this afternoon.  So, I sit in this Barnes & Noble Cafe, waiting for the house to cool (it was 91 degrees inside today) so I can get home and experience some quality sleep. Soon I’ll travel to the Colorado Rockies, and I just want to get my physical and spiritual self back on a good track before I begin the new trek.

Above, I have  posted the watercolor that I began yesterday, and completed this morning. It is now in transit to its new home out east, and I’m delighted that the patron is happy with it (glad also to have the job finished before making my next journey).

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when feeling alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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Grinding it Out

July 24, 2017

largemouth

This has been an exhausting work day for me in The Gallery at Redlands. I have a commission to complete and have had difficulty painting because of a broken A/C at home. Painting on the road doesn’t come easily for me. Several friends have stopped by the gallery whom I haven’t seen in weeks and it was good to catch up on the local news and make a couple of trips out of the shop to photograph some historic sites in the Palestine vicinity. But all the while, though, I knew I needed to get this 11 x 14″ painting started and nearly finished.  I stopped repeatedly throughout the day, taking refresher breaks so as not to experience fatigue-driven mistakes. Finally, at 7:15 tonight, I realized that this composition is finally taking shape and I believe is going to turn out alright. It needs to be scanned and processed no later than tomorrow to satisfy a deadline I promised.

Thanks for reading.  It’s quiet here, and I just wanted to share this.

Thoughts Between the Rivers

June 27, 2017

camp

There are two things in painting: the eye and the brain, and they have to help each other; you have to work on their mutual development, but painter-fashion; the eye, for the vision of nature; the brain, for the logic of organized sensations which give the means of expression.
Paul Cezanne

I thought on this day I would be on Day Three of our planned river excursion.  However, a few difficulties ensued, and we decided to abort and begin a modified plan on Thursday. Wayne had some difficulties with the supply boat and its stability in the swifter currents, and I–I had difficulties keeping my kayak upright. We did manage to get in some quality fishing time, however.  But as nightfall drew nearer and the currents more difficult, we decided it safer (for me) and more expedient (for the packing supplies) to call off the odyssey and plan a new one.  On Thursday, we should be joined by Mark, and I’ll trade my kayak for the canoe I rode last summer.  Most likely, we will paddle and fish throughout the day, set up camp for the night, then decide on Day Two if we’ve had enough fun.

wayne fishing

Wayne Fishing Big River

Today I join Wayne and his grandson for some lake fishing (and I’ll stay on the shore this time) and I anticipate a scenario resembling more of a fishing team than Laurel and Hardy.

Yesterday, after drying out my sleeping bag, tent, and tarp, and going to a coin laundry to wash all my river-soaked clothes, I settled back into a watercolor I started two days ago.

train

I have a large project before me involving trains, and should be posting many more watercolor renderings in the weeks ahead. While working on this one, I kept Cezanne’s ideas in my head, constantly adjusting my eye to my brain. I’m working from a quality photograph, so I should be able to put the necessary details in place.  However, the picture composition leaves much to be desired, and I hope I’ll be able to factor in some quality composition decisions.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

Sketching on a Friday

July 29, 2016

daves diner

There are three aspects of nature which command man’s attention: power, loveliness, grandeur.  Power he exploits, loveliness he enjoys, grandeur fills him with awe.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion

Closing out a sublime vacation has always proved difficult for me. This morning I ventured into an old-fashioned diner for an old-fashioned breakfast. When I stepped outside, the unseasonable Missouri temperatures were suspended at 81 degrees. Without a moment’s hesitation, I fetched my journal and packet of pencils from my vehicle and took a seat on the sidewalk outside, adjacent to the Post Office in High Ridge, Missouri, and sketched a tree stretching over the fence of the property next door.  The traffic swished, the birds chirped, the breeze chased loose leaves and debris across the paved parking lot stretched out before me. And I felt that I was embraced by nature’s grandeur.  Unfortunately the photo above is not sharp, because I cropped it from the corner of the journal where I was writing my most private thoughts.

I was sad to close a three-day chapter with friends I knew from high school.  We laugh at ourselves (old farts) when we gather to kayak and fish the river (the Gasconade this time). But on a sober note, I miss these guys sorely right now-their stories, their laughter, their ideas and above all, the fact that they no longer take themselves as seriously as half-a-century ago.  We are not the center of the world as we thought we were in high school. As it turns out, our parents and teachers knew what they were talking about (most of the time) when they tried to teach us how to live and succeed. I never thought I would be caught talking about “the good old days” but now that it’s happened, I can genuinely say I feel much better about life all around now. Thanks, Mark and Wayne.  I can’t wait till the next time . . .

fishin.jpg

fishin 2

I had to lay down the brush a few days ago to make way for the river and fishing. Today I’m just sitting quietly with my reading and my thoughts, glad for the respite from work, and gladder still that school is still a few weeks away.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I’m not really alone.

Troublesome Fly Fishing I

March 4, 2016

Troublesome 1

Some friends have been asking recently about my fly fishing watecolors. I am posting the three originals that remain in my collection. This one above measures 8.5 x 11.5 and is not currently in a mat or frame. I’m offering it for $125.

Troublesome 2

This one measures 13.5 x 10.5″ and is in a 20 x 16″ white mat.  I’m offering it for $150.

troublesome framed

This one I have difficulty photographing because of the glare on the glass. A better image is on my website http://www.recollections54.com.  The image measures 9 x 17″ and it is in a 19 x 31″ custom frame with insets of a pair of trout flies and a reprodution of one of my brown trout watercolors (I still have the brown trout original as well). This one is priced at $900.

Thank you for the inquiries.

He’s No Longer Here

March 18, 2014
Fishing Memories (22 x 28" framed watercolor)

Fishing Memories (22 x 28″ framed watercolor)

When the neighbors hammered the padlock off the deceased man’s fishing shed, they peered inside the darkened room with sadness at the world of memories their dear friend had left behind.  Guarding the assembly from its high perch, the kerosene lantern called to memory nights spent on the Mississippi River dikes, waiting for catfish that would find their way to the Griswold skillet. The Canada Dry crate was the old fisherman’s stool for the nightlong vigils.

Bass fishing featured the Garcia Mitchell open-faced reel and the vintage wooden plugs for the area lakes and ponds.  In his retirement years, fly fishing took over, and the old man delighted in the long road trips in his Dodge pickup to the Colorado Rockies where he would not be heard from for weeks at a time.  The battered suitcase was his lifelong road companion, as was the dark leather knapsack that he bought from an old leathershop on the dusty streets of Athens during his European excursions.

The old man had not been heard from for more than a week, and the inquiring neighbors were saddened to enter his home and find him in his final resting place–his favorite recliner in the small front room of his ramshackle house.  His cup was still half-filled with the Dining Car Coffee he relished throughout his years working on the Frisco railroad.  Now, only his possessions remained to tell his life’s story.

I’m gearing up for a three-day art festival this weekend: Art on the Greene in Arlington, Texas.  I brought back from the Bowman Gallery in Portland my large framed fishing still life watercolor that I plan to install as a centerpiece to my booth display.  Greeting cards of the painting have just been printed, and posted above is the text I just composed that will appear on the back of the 5 x 7″ cards.  I wanted the painting to tell a story, so this is the one I just pulled together.  The story is one that I’ve carried in my consciousness for quite a few years now, wishing that I could write a novel or short story around the old man’s life and travels.  At any rate, I have a small piece to put on the back of a card.  I love watching patrons reading the backs of my cards when I’m selling out of an art booth.  It shows me that they have imagination and interest that go beyond just the images of the art work.

Thanks for reading.  I still have quite a bit to assemble and pack tonight.  The show is just a matter of days away.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Bait Shop Watercolor Finished

March 11, 2014
Completed Bait Shop Watercolor

Completed Bait Shop Watercolor

Reading allows me to be in communion with other people without having to mingle with the crowd, which always frightens me.  It is one of the adornments of my solitude.

Paul Gauguin, letter to Andre  Fontainas, August 1899, Tahiti

The day began deliciously at 6:00 with plenty of quality studio time.  Then 9:00 came, businesses opened, and I had to take my Jeep to a couple of establishments for some routine maintenance.  Unfortunately, the wait was long.  Fortunately, I brought my Gauguin, Writings of a Savage.  Good thing too–I spent more than two hours sitting in reception areas, waiting for work to be completed.  I found Gauguin’s writings very engaging, and didn’t fret the long wait hours.

After two more stops beyond Jeep maintenance, I finally got back home to my studio and picked up the brush a final time, finishing this watercolor.  It’s been satisfying.  The painting started very badly, and finished alright.  I’m pleased.  Now, I turn my attention to the large Hermann, Missouri composition.  What a satisfying Spring Break!

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Early Morning Watch in the Studio

March 11, 2014
Rising Early to Paint

Rising Early to Paint

Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.  I have been as sincere a worshipper of Aurora as the Greeks.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Daylight Saving Time still has my circadian rhythms out of whack.  I sat up reading until 2:00 a.m., and still awoke at 6:00 which is my normal time to rise on workday mornings.  Spring Break has been sweet up to this point, and I am now glad that I decided to rise at my normal time.  Already I’m on my second cup of coffee and have poured a ton of attention into this Bait Shop watercolor.  The morning light is flooding my studio and I am enjoying the quiet serenity that envelops me.

Painting the human figure still terrifies me.  I am out of my element.  Having spent hours visiting the Hopper exhibition that recently closed at the Dallas Museum of Art, I have resolved to study and sketch the human figure and incorporate these studies into my watercolors.  I believe my biggest fear is making these innocent people look like caricatures or cartoons, even though I think many of Edward Hopper’s masterpieces render the human figure in the likeness of a comic strip.  I need to stop worrying about this and just proceed.  I have four people in this reference photo taken last November, and most of my attention this morning has been on them.  For better or worse, I believe I’ll be finished with this piece by lunch time.  Then I hope to return to my large painting of Hermann, Missouri.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Watercoloring Late into the Spring Night

March 10, 2014
Painting Late into the Night

Painting Late into the Night

As best we could, we have just pointed out and then explained color as living matter; like the body of a living being.  Now we must talk about its soul, that elusive fluid which by means of intelligence and the heart has created so much and stirred so much–about color that helps our imagination to soar, opening a new door onto mystery and the infinite. We cannot explain it, but perhaps indirectly, by using a comparison, we can suggest its language.

Paul Gauguin, “Miscellaneous Things,” from The Writings of a Savage

This night is getting late, but I am enjoying the mix of reading from Gauguin and exploring color in this small 8 x 10″ watercolor.  Funny how I feel that the older I get, the less I know about color, even though I seem to be learning things at a much faster pace than when I was younger.  In a few days, I’ll teach a watercolor workshop, and already wonder how much these new discoveries will disrupt my comfort zone as a teacher.  That is no doubt a silly anxiety.  We are all in pursuit of improvement, and just need the constant reminder that teachers aren’t expected to know it all.  The truly educated never graduate.  I am, for all practical purposes, still a student, and an enthusiastic one at that.

So far, this Spring Break has provided a delicious respite from the daily grind.  It is pure joy to soak up the quiet of the studio late at night, to enjoy reading, to enjoy chipping away at a watercolor.  Life is good.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

The Nightingale’s Song

March 10, 2014
Revisiting an earlier start on a Texas Coast Bait Shop

Revisiting an earlier start on a Texas Coast Bait Shop

A given arrangement of colors, lights, and shadows produces an impression.  This is what we might call the music of the painting.  Often you are seized by that magical harmony before you even know what the subject of a painting is, as when you enter a cathedral and are too far away from the painting to make it out clearly.

Paul Gauguin, Miscellaneous Things” from The Writings of a Savage

This afternoon, I returned to a watercolor abandoned a few months ago.  I abandoned it because it started out badly.  The reason I chose the composition was because I was enchanted with the abundance of blue tones I found on site when I took the photograph.  And I was confident that I could solve the overall blue composition.  But the painting went south in a hurry, and I tossed it aside in disgust.

Oftentimes, I’ll look at a discarded work repeatedly as months go by, and sometimes I’ll give the composition a second chance.  This is one of those times.  Taking my lead from Paul Gauguin, I am trying to bring out the “music” in the subject that so captured my fancy last November when I was on the coast.  I am more pleased with how the painting is shaping up today, and think I’ll stay with it some more.  Sometimes I find a way to rescue a painting that starts out badly.  Maybe this will happen again.  At any rate, I’m not attached to it, so we’ll see what happens.

Yesterday, while reading Gauguin’s journals (I’m nearly 200 pages into them now, and astounded at his erudition and vision), I came across his criticism of the French Impressionists for relying on the eye more than the intellect.  In the final analysis, he dismissed much of their work as merely “the song of the nightingale.”  This prompted me to revisit Hans Christian Andersen’s 1844 story “The Nightingale.”  As I read, I sighed at the thought that in my studio, my works of art are strewn about, and outside my window, the nightingale of Art sings a sublime music that lifts my soul to another level, much like in the Andersen fable.  For years in my study of art history, I have distinguished Art from works of art.  Our landscape is strewn with works of art, and all those creators had one thing in common: they were striving to create Art.  We fashion singing nightingales, but are always moved at the song of the real one just outside the window.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.